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Holidays more stressful than their worth to majority of SME owners

Taking annual leave is more stressful than it is worth for entrepreneurs and owners of UK small businesses, according to new research by AXA PPP Healthcare.

Almost nine-in-ten (86 per cent) of small business owners employing up to 30 staff admitted they continued to have regular contact with their workplace whilst away on holiday.

Meanwhile almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of business owners surveyed say they dealt with important phone calls and emails while on holiday and more than two-fifths (41 per cent) call up their office while they are away.

One-in-five entrepreneurs continue to accept telephone calls and check their daily emails as normal, while a tenth of business owners even admit to visiting the office in person while they were supposed to be on annual leave.

According to the survey, the average number of days of annual leave taken by SME owners in 2014 was just 11 days, but 59 per cent anticipate taking more next year.

Glen Parkinson, SME business director, AXA PPP Healthcare, said: “It’s understandable that owners want to keep an eye on their businesses, even when they are on holiday, but it is concerning that they take so little time off and that they view their break so negatively.

“We know the importance of downtime, not just for wellbeing but also for ensuring productivity and good mental health.”

More than half (52 per cent) of owners of small firms admit the cause of this behaviour is down to the concern of their business and getting in contact or even visiting the workplace helps to put their mind at ease.

11 per cent admit they wouldn’t be able to relax and enjoy their annual leave without doing so.

It would certainly appear that small business owners have a tendency to take their work home with them. The survey shows entrepreneurs are putting in 36 hours of work a week at their workplace and a further 17 hours a week when they get home.

“Small business owners have to combine leading their business and securing its future with ensuring the business-essential activities are also well managed,” added Parkinson.

“This degree of responsibility is therefore leading to longer working hours and higher levels of stress for many business owners.

“In the long term, this behaviour is unsustainable and business owners should heed advice to take more time away from their business to rest and recharge as well as get the necessary support where appropriate.”

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